Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed that his country has attained nuclear capabilities, but will not use them to strike Israel.

In an interview published Wednesday by Egyptian establishment daily Al-Ahram, Ahmadinejad said that even though “the Zionists” are intent on attacking Iran, Iran is “not planning a military strike against them, because our system is defensive.”

On the second day of a three-day visit to Egypt, Ahmadinejad warned Israel against launching a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying that such an attack would cause grave consequences for the Jewish state.

“Launching missiles or a fighter jet would not be difficult [for Israel], but what is important is the reaction to such a strike, as well as Iran’s defensive capabilities,” he said.

Speaking of Iran’s technological advances, Ahmadinejad claimed that his country is now “an industrial country, a nuclear and aerospace country.” He told Al-Ahram that for years Iran has dreamed of launching a man into space, and will do so in the future. The Iranian president did not acknowledge that Iran was developing nuclear capabilities for military purposes.

“From now on, the world should treat Iran as a nuclear state,” he said, challenging the West to recognize Iran’s technological advances and cooperate with it.

Zionists, Ahamadinejad argued, are playing a special role in the world, taking control of political positions of power, natural resources and money. They also strive “to monopolize many sectors by destroying cultures and economies and by waging wars.”

Ahmadinejad highlighted the economic woes of the United States, saying it was in the process of transferring its problems to the rest of the world “through the dollars.” America, he added, continues to push its hegemony by “placing its hands in the pockets of others.”

Addressing the Egyptian fear of Iranian-backed Shiite proselytizing, Ahmadinejad denied any official Iranian policy of spreading Shiite Islam in the Arab world, while acknowledging that some individuals may be involved in such activity.

Attending a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation in Cairo on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad is the first Iranian leader to visit Egypt in 35 years. Following the Islamic revolution in 1979, Iran cut diplomatic relations with Egypt, which sheltered the deposed Shah and signed peace accords with Israel. The Islamic Republic subsequently named a Tehran street after the assassin of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, Khaled Islambouli.